In the Lectionary

November 7, All Saints B (Isaiah 25:6–9)

The prophet Isaiah sings an eschatological melody.

Fred Craddock once said words to this effect: that he knew some people could do without a notion of heaven, that eternal life in that sense was not a requirement for their understanding of the gospel, but he was not one of them. He believed, wanted and needed to believe, in heaven. Too much injustice, he as much as answered, before anyone had a chance to ask him why.

When I heard these words, something in my soul began to sing. I found myself thinking about familiar prophetic images: the valleys raised up, the mountains brought low, all ground being level and plain; when the rich share their goods at last or go away broke and ruined; when the hungry are filled, finally, and the gluttonous turned away from the banquet.

I share Craddock’s conviction about “thy kingdom come”—and yes, of course, on earth as it is in heaven. For some, the sociopolitical, eco-ethical hope of the gospel is reason and agenda enough for embracing Jesus and his programmatic reordering of the world as it is. But for others, heaven on earth, strive for it as we might, falls short of the beatific vision. There is too much injustice and too little time.